Thursday, February 14, 2008


The Following was written for Friday's Province but will not run because it conflicts with editorials and other pieces on the same subject.

I wrote it, so I thought someone aught to read it.

Tuesday was a big day for criminal justice in this neck of the woods.

Surrey Provincial Court Judge Ken Ball sentenced 18 year-old Enrique Quintana to 10 years in an adult prison for his part in the vicious and unprovoked hatchet attack that left Michael Levy incapacitated for life. Levy, 19, is now a quadriplegic, confined to a wheelchair. He requires daily care, lives on painkillers and depressants and his lungs function at 50% normal capacity. Judge Ball called the attack an act of “such brutal savagery as to be difficult to comprehend."

On the same day, Lt.- Gov. Stephen Point delivered Premier Gordon Campbell’s throne speech. Among the shopping list that included trans-fats, smoking restrictions, pharmacy refills and nurses’ roles was this gem.

“British Columbians want to understand why sentences in their province tend to be shorter than in other provinces for crimes such as homicide, theft, property crimes, fraud, impaired driving and drug possession. A comprehensive review of sentencing practices in B.C. courts will address these questions.”

No sooner were the words uttered than the knives came out.

NDP MLA Mike Farnsworth, the opposition’s public safety critic, said immediately that the government should act, not launch another study. And while thousands of us would agree with Farnsworth, he knows as well as any that “study” is usually the safe euphemism for taking no action. Doing things, after all, can draw attention.

Meanwhile, in the nation’s capital, also on Tuesday, the Hon. Gerry St. Germain rose in the Senate to speak in support of Prime Minister Harper’s Bill C-2, the Tackling Violent Crime Act, which consists of five bills dealing with violent crimes, dangerous offenders, and the age of sexual consent.

Here is some of what St. Germain, a former police officer, said.

“Canadians want criminal justice reform and they want it now. Canadians are not just appalled at the extent to which our criminal justice system has eroded – they are scared, angry and fed up. Violent criminals walk the streets free. Drug dealers ply their trade without restriction. Gangsters shoot at each other in our streets. Hard core sex offenders are released from prison while still a serious threat.

Victims of crime suffer while the legal elitists who have claimed the judicial system as their own exclusive domain play an endless game of plea-bargaining, legal hair-splitting, and meaningless justification of atrociously illogical decisions.

They hide behind the unjust principles inherent in the Charter of Rights—a charter of terrible wrongs in the minds of most Canadians.”

Last week, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Catherine Bruce declared a police search of a grow-op unconstitutional. Apparently the cops didn’t knock loud enough or long enough for the alleged crook to flush or burn the evidence.

I am a simple person. I understand the need to protect our privacies. But, like you, I also have a straightforward idea of what constitutes criminal justice.

When will the courts be so endowed with common sense?


PelaLusa said...

They're already censoring you?! Not a good sign!!

I just read how Peter Ladner was fired from the Vcr Sun in the 1970's when he [truthfully] declared that a number of his colleagues were potheads.

What really annoys me the most is how so many journalists hold themselves up as the most sanctimonious, holy creatures in the universe. What a joke!

David Berner said...

No, No, Robert, nobody is censoring me.

It's just that today they ran an editorial about the Levy boy and his attacker's sentence and tomorrow they will run an editorial about Gordon Campbell;s visit to their board room this morning discussing sentencing.

I still think my column was sifficiently different to warrant publishing, but that's OK.

PelaLusa said...

Oh, okay. Well, you should always have a backup editorial about your latest experiences with Berner's Driving Queens!!!


Anonymous said...

Hi David,
First time I've met your website. You are a clever man to publish your own column when it conflicts with the big papers. Why waste a good column, I say.

One fine point -- Lieutenant Governor Point's first name is spelled Steven, not Stephen. I learned the hard way, chastised by an editor for not being 100% accurate in my spelling.

M. Claudette Sandecki said...

Hi David

Your unpublished column has been sent to all 200 or more FACT members.
FACT is Families Against Crime and Trauma, a group begun in Vancouver by Sandra Martins-Toner - whose 16-year-old son was beaten to death at Surrey Skytrain Station July 2005 - and Nina Rivet - sister of Irene Thorpe who was run down and killed by two street racers in 2001.
Thank you for writing and posting your column.

David Berner said...

Ooops...thanks for the correction on Mr. Point's first name. I'm usually a stickler on such things. Glad you're enjoying the blog. Cheers...

David Berner said...

Dear M.C. Sandecki,

Thank you so much for passing this on to your colleagues. If you read very carefully the editorial in today's Province, you will see by the Premier's remarks that he intends to do nothing.

Best wishes.

David in N Bby said...

Of course Gordie Campbell will do nothing. When all is said and done, he's with the party that brought about this state of affairs.

Anonymous said...

Wally and Gordo want to "study" sentencing. Give me a break. How about doing something about it. How about a little action?